After several days of hard work with mostly improvised rosters, the Yankees picked up a few regulars as reinforcements on Saturday.
The results were as immediate as possible.
With Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton joining the revised batting order, new leader Aaron Judge and the Yankees hit seven straight to start a game for the first time in nearly 32 years and earned a 10-3 victory well deserved on the Rays at the Stadium.
Donaldson and Stanton also hit solo home runs to back up Jameson Taillon, who worked a solid 7¹/₃ innings as the Yankees (84-56) extended their AL East lead over Tampa Bay to 4¹ /₂ games and clinched the season series (10-8) ahead of the final regular season game between the division rivals on Sunday.
Taillon (13-4, 3.94 ERA) was charged with three runs on six hits, with one walk and eight strikeouts, on 99 pitches. Reliever Lou Trivino allowed two legacy runners to score on Harold Ramirez’s single in the eighth inning.
The last time the Yankees opened a game with at least seven straight hits was when they hit eight in a row in a 15-3 win over the Orioles at Old Stadium on Sept. 25, 1990. This game featured home runs from Roberto Kelly and Randy Velarde.
Judge, the MLB leader with 55 home runs, knocked out two of the Yankees’ eight total singles in their first six-run inning Saturday, including the first of seven in a row to start the frame against former teammate Corey Kluber.
Judge finished 3-for-4, making it a career-best seven straight games in which he reached base at least three times. This included the last two games out of first place. It is the longest such streak by a Yankee since Mickey Mantle in June 1957.
“Just trying to get him as high as possible, obviously, and trying to protect him as much as possible,” manager Aaron Boone said before the game. “We’re sort of looking for combinations, especially with a lot of guys missing. As simple as that.”
DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo, Andrew Benintendi and Jose Trevino (paternity leave) remain sidelined, but Stanton was back in the starting XI for the first time since Monday after a foot problem. Batting second for the third time this season, Stanton followed Judge’s opening single to the left with a liner to the right for another hit, before Gleyber Torres opened the scoring with an RBI single to the right.
Donaldson, disabled on the pre-game paternity list after the birth of his daughter, then lifted what he thought was a right-hand home run; he even did a pronounced bat flip. But replays showed the ball bouncing off the top of the wall for what became another single. The hit loaded the bases because the runners ahead of Donaldson only advanced one base each.
Oswaldo Cabrera made it 3-0 with a right two-run single, and Miguel Andujar added another run with a shot down the middle. Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a hit for the seventh straight single to open the game. Extra runs were scored on Kyle Higashioka’s ground pitch and the inning judge’s second hit to chase Kluber down 6-0 after he recorded just two outs.
Donaldson didn’t return his bat in his next plate appearance, but did homer into the right-field seats in the second inning against right-hander JT Chargois. His 13th home run of the season extended the Yankees’ lead to seven. Donaldson was also hit by a pitch and scored on a wild pitch by Calvin Faucher in the seventh inning as the Yankees added two more runs.
Stanton’s solo home run — his 25th of the season, but first since July 15 — came against position player Christian Bethancourt in the eighth. The shot rang off the left field foul post for a 10-3 lead.
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